Following Monday’s announcement of seven Labour MPs leaving the party, an eighth then joined them and yesterday, Wednesday, three Conservative MPs also abandoned their party and ‘crossed the floor of the House’ to sit as Independents in the Commons.
Adding the earlier instance of Frank Field to them, 12 MPs have now left their parties and in the case of the nine now former Labour members, all have quoted the party’s lurch to the far left and the rise of anti-Semitism as the reason.
Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston and Heidi Allen however, cannot lay claim to the same. Their reasons are entirely due to their avowed opposition to Brexit – something that the Labour seven of Monday have rather conveniently either not mentioned or done so almost in passing. The result is that the Independent Group, while those seven may have justification for leaving Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour on the basis of its racism, consist of those who oppose the departure of the UK from the EU and all are determined to defy the majority vote and prevent it.
There is a strong possibility that all of these MPs might have faced deselection before the next general election so have taken this step now to avoid that but their continued presence in the House of Commons depends on their being supported by the electorate of their constituencies when the time comes, and that is far from being a foregone conclusion.
At best the Independents are being, in part at least, disingenuous, at worst, dishonest. While the former Labour members do have justification on the basis of anti-Semitism, the Independent Group would have more credibility if they had been more ‘up-front’ about their intentions over Brexit.
Consequently they just might have consigned themselves to history if they are not re-elected at the next time of asking.